Palmetto Bay

PALMETTO BAY

Village Council agrees to allow expansion of Palmer Trinity school

 

Palmetto Bay's Village Council on Thursday tentatively agreed to a zoning change needed for the expansion of the Palmer Trinity school -- a proposal that has created the biggest issue since this South Miami-Dade coastal community incorporated.

The outcome, delivered briskly after public comment, sets the stage for final approval Tuesday night. The school wants to add a chapel, gym and administrative building, and increase enrollment to 1,150 students over 15 years.

Anticlimactic?

Perhaps, especially given the elaborate swearing-in process, disclosure testimony from the council, the unusually packed hall at the Deering Center for a zoning hearing, including Palmer Trinity headmaster Sean Murphy, and the truck in the parking lot festooned with signs screaming, "Save Palmetto Bay."

Expected?

Almost assuredly. That's because Florida's Third District Court of Appeal recently overturned a local judge's ruling in favor of Palmetto Bay, meaning that the village had to reconsider its decision to deny the zoning change.

Julien Perez, Palmetto Bay's planning and zoning director, delivered the staff report and recommended that the zoning change proceed.

The passage and Tuesday's likely acceptance didn't come without a sour aftertaste for several council members, such as Shelley Stanczyk and Ed Feller, who were on the council when it rejected the zoning change in 2008.

"I do not agree with the court," Stanczyk said, her voice betrayed by a bout with bronchitis. "We put time and effort, and there was nothing improper. We did our job and it was based on traffic at the time."

Citing "intimidation tactics'' from some members of the community over the controversial issue, Stanczyk added that the "court failed to recognize the job we did."

But she voted in favor of approval Thursday. "We must submit to the court. Not because we want to. But because we should."

Feller agreed.

"We voted against it on the basis of a traffic study. The court directed us to change that."

The council could still reject the school's site plan on Tuesday, however, several land-use lawyers told The Miami Herald last week.

Though school officials and several parents whose children attend the private Episcopal school applauded the decision and feel confident passage is imminent Tuesday, some members of the community continued to speak out against the zoning change.

George Pustai, a 29-year resident of the Palmetto Bay area, said he had concerns about the loss of the orchard field Palmer Trinity owns. The 32-acre mango grove would eventually house new school buildings if the rezoning and site plan wins approval.

"The village spent a bunch of money for green standards," he said. "Those trees serve a purpose. So much property is being eaten up and destroyed."

Susan Swakon said she would prefer to see single-family homes on the grounds rather than "large schools."

But Ramon Leira, whose twins attend Palmer Trinity, said his family chose the Palmetto Bay community as the sort of place "to carry us into our years of retirement." He spoke in favor of the zoning change. "We hope the council takes the recommendation of their staff."

And so they did on Thursday.

The 7 p.m. Tuesday second reading and site plan zoning hearing is expected to draw a large crowd, so it has been booked into Christ Fellowship Church, 8900 SW 168th St. The public can comment but with time restrictions of three minutes apiece.

Read more Palmetto Bay stories from the Miami Herald

  • Soapbox

    Letter: South Miami mayor is a mosquito-control novice

    It was reassuring to learn in Soapbox (Mosquito spraying can have negative consequences, Aug. 17) that South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, a professor of biology at Florida International University, has discovered what most residents of his city knew decades ago – that mosquitoes breed in standing water, including the contents of bromeliads. But it wasn’t reassuring to learn that Stoddard apparently now feels qualified to advise the rest of us about his belated discovery – and to impose on all his neighbors his own conclusions about the impact of mosquito spraying in this region. If Stoddard had lived here during the weeks after Hurricane Andrew, he might have acquired a greater understanding of how far the quality of human life can deteriorate in a former swamp when mosquito spraying is suspended even temporarily.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">IN HONOR OF THE LITTLE WARRIOR:</span> Briana Vega, a 12-year-old student at Westminster Christian School, lost her battle to acute myeloid leukemia in February. Students and educators from Westminster have teamed up with the Live Like Bella Foundation and created a fishing tournament at Shake-A-Leg Miami in Coconut Grove to raise funds for research in AML.

    Miami-Dade

    Fishing tournament to raise money for leukemia research

    Briana Vega, a 12-year-old student at Westminster Christian School in Palmetto Bay, lost her battle to acute myeloid leukemia in February, two years after being diagnosed with cancer.

  • Palmetto Bay

    Palmetto Bay village manager proposes budget

    Palmetto Bay will begin landscaping, curb, and street light improvements in the triangle between Southwest 184th Street, U.S.1 and Franjo Road next year, build two new batting cages at Palmetto Bay Park, plant more trees, and improve several safe routes to school.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK